Gold Coast young gun Bailey Humphrey has smashed his personal best time in the 2km run as he targets playing more AFL midfield minutes in 2024.
The 19-year-old, who played as a half-forward and midfielder in his 19 games in 2023, identified a weakness and worked on it in the off-season.
"The main thing I have copped all my footy career is that I haven't been a good enough runner," Humphrey said after day one of pre-season training.
"I went into the off-season and worked pretty hard on it. I ran a PB in the 2km (run) this morning and got six (minutes) 20 (seconds). I am pretty happy with that. I have never got under six (minutes) 40 (seconds).
"That is why I worked on my running as well because I see myself as more of a midfielder than a forward. If I can get my running to a better standard I am more chance of playing more midfield minutes."
The Suns have a strong midfield, led by the likes of Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell, and Humphrey conceded he would have to fight hard to get the minutes he craved.
"It was hard to get into this year and I was grateful I got to play a couple of midfield minutes in each game and each quarter," he said.
"The more years I get under my belt the more I will break into (midfield) hopefully."
Humphrey consulted with Gold Coast's high performance chief Alex Rigby after the recent campaign and they agreed he needed to get his running up to scratch.
"I was getting a little bit tired towards the end of the year and that was why my footy probably wasn't up to standard," he said.
Humphrey did the hard yards himself, pounding the pavement each Thursday and Saturday morning with the marathon runners at the highly regarded Gold Coast Run Co, overseen by competitive runner and coach Jacko Elliott.
"I don't think I would be as fit as I am if it wasn't for the run club," Humphrey said.
Humphrey was the No.6 pick in the 2022 AFL draft and is so highly regarded by the Suns that this year he signed a four-year extension that has him on the books until the end of 2028.
Humphrey said new coach Damien Hardwick, signed until the end of 2029, had "totally changed" the game plan from last season.
"He's come from Richmond with a pretty good resume, so he knows what he is talking about," Humphrey said.
"All the little stuff he talks about ... you do it and it actually works. We will listen to him.
"We had a meeting before training where we went through offensive stuff, but his main message was to go out and have a bit of fun and enjoy it as a group.
"The session was short and sharp but high intensity."
Australian Associated Press